Person looking at a piece of paper thinking about an interview

Yes, I Do Have a Disability

I may not have lots of talents, but living in denial is a talent that I have honed and gotten quite proficient at over the years.

All my life, we've been made to see disability as a bad thing, a "dirty word," so to speak. So I have managed to live in denial of my RLS for almost 3 decades.

My first instinct was to say, 'I do not have a disability'

I have never even thought of myself as disabled, as this isn't really a conversation that regularly happens where I am from, especially if there is nothing physically or obviously wrong with you.

Imagine my surprise the first time I was applying for a job when I moved to North America and saw the phrase, "Do you have a disability?"

"I do not have a disability. It's not a disability," was my first instinct! "God forbid, I do not have a disability," I said out loud to myself, echoing my mother's earlier sentiments.

These are the phrases I would go on to constantly repeat to myself during job applications and interviews. I would categorically state "NO" when the question of or conversations about disability came up.

Deep down, I knew I was disabled

Here's the gag: deep down inside, I knew I was disabled, but on some level, I felt not labelling restless legs syndrome as a disability would somehow lesson its impact on my life. It didn't help that RLS  is very rarely considered a disability in the medical and insurance world.

But who was I kidding? In each job, even though I had declared I didn't have a disability, I would go on to ask for different things like a swivel chair, under-the-table heaters, hours that supported my inability to sit still for too long. Yet, I "do not have a disability?" The jokes write themselves at this point.

For the first time in my life, I ticked the 'Yes' box

After a while, I started using terms like "differently abled," "leg impediment," "slightly physically challenged," etc. You see, I still saw disability as a dirty word until a couple of months ago.

One of my New Year's resolutions was to live my most authentic life as my authentic self. I was finally applying to a job I had always wanted, and when it came time to tick the disabled "Yes" or "No" box, for the first time in my life, I ticked "Yes"!

I was no longer living in denial — I felt free

It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Yes, I am disabled. So what? Did it make me any less a person? Did it make me incompetent? Did it bring down my self-worth in any way? The answer is heck NO.

Not only did I get the job, the conversation about what kind of support and concessions I'd need happened a lot sooner and made my life exponentially easier. I was no longer living in denial. I felt free.

Hi, my name is Joy. I have restless legs syndrome, and yes, it is a disability.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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